Page:A plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights entertainments, now entitled The book of the thousand nights and a night, volume 1.djvu/17

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The Translator's Foreword.

a Badawi of superior accomplishments, who sometimes says his prayers, ejaculates a startling " Astaghfaru'llah"—I pray Allah's pardon!—for listening, not to Carlyle's "downright lies," but to light mention of the sex whose name is never heard amongst the nobility of the Desert.

Nor was it only in Arabia that the immortal Nights did me such notable service: I found the wildlings of Somali-land equally amenable to its discipline; no one was deaf to the charm and the two women-cooks of my caravan, on its way to Harar, were incontinently dubbed by my men "Shahrazad" and "Dinazad."

It may be permitted me also to note that this translation is a natural outcome of my Pilgrimage to Al-Medinah and Meccah. Arriving at Aden in the (so-called) winter of 1852, I put up with my old and dear friend, Steinhaeuser, to whose memory this volume is inscribed; and, when talking over Arabia and the Arabs, we at once came to the same conclusion that, while the name of this wondrous treasury of Moslem folk-lore is familiar to almost every English child, no general reader is aware of the valuables it contains, nor indeed will the door open to any but Arabists. Before parting we agreed to "collaborate" and produce a full, complete, unvarnished, uncastrated copy of the great original, my friend taking the prose and I the metrical part; and we corresponded upon the subject for years. But whilst I was in the Brazil, Steinhaeuser died suddenly of apoplexy at Berne in Switzerland and, after the fashion of Anglo-India, his valuable MSS. left at Aden were dispersed, and very little of his labours came into my hands.

Thus I was left alone to my work, which progressed fitfully amid a host of obstructions. At length, in the spring of 1879, the tedious process of copying began and the book commenced to take finished form. But, during the winter of 1881-82, I saw in the literary journals a notice of a new version by Mr. John Payne, well known to scholars for his prowess in English verse,